House passes bill to end forced arbitration agreements

September 23, 2019

Mark Schremmer


A bill that would prohibit forced arbitration agreements passed the House on Friday, Sept. 20.

By a vote of 225-186, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act.

HR1423 was introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., D-Ga., on Feb. 28. The bill would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer and civil rights cases and would allow consumers and workers to agree to arbitration after a dispute occurs.

“Forced arbitration clauses have permeated American life in recent decades,” Johnson said in a news release. “They’ve seeped into just about every nook and cranny of our lives, including cellphone contracts, medical bills, employee handbooks, credit cards, nursing home contracts – you name it.

“The deck has been stacked against American consumers in favor of big business for too long. This is just another tool for powerful corporate interests to avoid accountability. The FAIR Act would level the playing field for all Americans.”

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Forced arbitration has also been common in the trucking industry.

Truck driver Dominic Oliveira’s case against Springfield,-Mo.-based New Prime reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court over whether or not independent contractors were exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act.

In January, the Supreme Court ruled that all transportation workers – including independent contractors – are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act.

In 2015, Oliveira filed a class action against New Prime, alleging that the trucking company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the Missouri minimum-wage statute. New Prime moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act.

The Supreme Court’s decision allowed Oliveira to move forward with his lawsuit against New Prime.